Vox pop | What are you most excited about for the coming year?
It’s a big year for Leeds as the city celebrates a year of “letting culture loose”.
Leeds 2023 got off to a flying start at Headingley Stadium in early January with ‘The Awakening’ where attendees were asked to create a piece of art to take part.
And a series of major events are planned every month with a wide range of grassroots programmes happening all over the city. These will be themed around three seasons, awakening, playing, and dreaming, and have a strong emphasis on community and creativity.
At Leeds Museums and Galleries, we’ve a packed programme across our nine sites.
Highlights include Overlooked (Leeds City Museum, 10 February – 23 June 2023) an exhibition that brings together the voices of people whose stories have been largely disregarded, curated by the Preservative Party, a group of young volunteers. Also at City Museum, we’ll be celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop culture in Leeds with a special exhibition that runs from 28 July 2023 – 7 January 2024.
For the first time in more than a decade, Leeds Art Gallery will be showcasing work created by artists from across the city in the Leeds Artists Show 2023 (15 February – 30 April 2023). The exhibition includes 20 young artists whose works were made within nine primary schools in Leeds who are part of Leeds Museums and Galleries primary membership scheme.
I’m also really looking forward to engagement in public spaces such as a collaboration between Michael Pinsky and Studio Bark in City Square, and the unveiling of Yinka Shonibare’s monumental ‘Hibiscus Rising’ in Aire Park, remembering the life of David Oluwale and looking forward to a brighter future for the city. See you in Leeds!
“One of the things for me for the coming year is just to be out and about a bit more,” says Pomeroy, who says that she can’t wait to travel to more museums in 2023 and hopes things will continue to open up in the sector post pandemic.
At The Box, Pomeroy is looking forward to “showcasing some of the brilliant objects and material from [its] collections to regional, national and international audiences.”
One major excitement at The Box in 2023 is drawing. Around 40 old master paintings will be selected from a collection of over 300, including a Rubens and work attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci. These will be shown alongside results from a local drawing competition run by the museum among schools and young people as well as new drawings by contemporary artists Rosie Quinlan and Hannah Hastings to encourage “audiences to think about the power of the past, its legacy and how it continues to inform artists” says Pomeroy.
Other exhibitions include a loan of one of only three Armada portraits of Elizabeth I to spark a conversation about powerful women. There will also be a 300th anniversary celebration of local artist and the first president of the Royal Academy, Joshua Reynolds, shown alongside contemporary Academician Rana Begum, to continue the “conversation between the historical and the contemporary.”
The museum will also be focusing on themes of decolonisation through a work entitled ‘End of Empire’ by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, made more poignant by Plymouth’s own role in colonisation as an historic British port.
“We've had some tough times as a sector over the last few years,” says Pomeroy “But I think it's about holding on to the power of museums and galleries and power we hold within these objects … And I'm really optimistic for 2023.”
In 2023 I truly looking forward to exploring and implementing more the possibility of art and advanced technologies (AxAT) as part of museums’ programmes and practices - not only in relation to NFT and crypto art formats used as a fundraising mechanism, but rather the role of such technologies in cultural institutions and the implications and impact on artistic commissions, audience development and collecting intelligence.
As a recent Jing Culture & Crypto newsletter put it: "The 'crypto bro' culture, represented by overhyped drops and questionable credibility, no longer attracts investors. Instead, renowned cultural institutions will take the lead in unveiling new NFT drops and even creating purpose-built blockchains to restore trust.”
In my view, the potential scenarios about how this may happen: through engagement, storytelling, mass participatory projects, new audience demographics, measurable outputs and so on, is the truly opportunity for development in visual arts in 2023.
It’s hard not to be excited about a new year and all the possibilities it contains. 2023 will bring with it the end of our first full year of being open as the Amelia Scott in Tunbridge Wells, and we have been extremely pleased with how the public have responded to us so far.
Despite Covid, and predictions of doom and gloom, the public have flocked back in droves – proving how important culture is to communities. In the coming year we will continue to take a people-led approach to our practice, ensuring the needs of our users are always paramount – whether that means helping with an enquiry, putting on enriching and affordable programming to help ease the burden of the cost of living crisis, or simply offering a warm place to stay, and a cup of coffee for someone in need.
We have a full exhibitions calendar ahead of us focusing on art and heritage in a digital world – our Year of Digital exhibitions run the gamut from digital artwork on loan from the Arts Council Collection, to amazing AI-based games inspired by our own collections and finally a show exploring the implications of the digital world on material culture.
So for me, 2023 is a chance to look forward, be brave and try new things - we will continue to try to live up to our Yoda-esque town creed: "Do well, doubt not."